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Probate with a Will

Fees for Probating a Will

In order to be considered for a flat fee when probating a Will, the following conditions must be met:

  1. The Decedent must have lived in an area covered by the flat fee;
  2. The Decedent must have died within the last four years;
  3. The matter must remain completely uncontested;
  4. The executor must have the original Will (not a copy);
  5. The Will must allow for independent administration or the probate must be for muniment of title; and 
  6. The Will must be self-proved (having appropriate attestation of witnesses).

Probate of Will as a Muniment of Title ($1,250.00 + fees required by court)

In this type of proceeding, the court admits the original Will to probate for the purpose of transferring title to real property. Since no formal ongoing administration is required, the probate of a Will as a muniment of title is easier and cheaper than a probate that includes administration. 

To qualify for the Will to be admitted as a muniment of title, the following requirements must be true: 

  1. The decedent must have left a valid Will; 
  2. The only debts owed by the estate are secured by liens on real estate; and 
  3. There must be no need for a formal administration (to distribute assets or pay debts other than for the real estate). 

There is no administration with this type of probate. The Court does not appoint an executor or administrator in this type of proceeding because no administration is necessary. The court's Order Admitting Will to Probate as a Muniment of Title Only constitutes sufficient legal authority for the transferal of estate property to the person(s) named in the Will as the beneficiary of the property. Although this type of probate could be available to transfer small amounts money from bank accounts to beneficiaries named in a Will, many financial institutions insist on only releasing estate funds to a court-appointed executor or administrator. The institutions do this by insisting that they receive "Letters Testamentary" or "Letters of Administration" prior to releasing estate funds. These "Letters" are the documents issued by the Court to the court-appointed executor or administrator. If the deceased has securities or funds in bank accounts, it often justifies the additional time and expense needed to ask the court for an administration.

Independent Administration ($1,750.00 + fees required by court)

In this type of proceeding, the Court admits the original Will to probate and appoints an executor to administer the estate. The executor is responsible for paying debts of the estate and distributing assets of the estate. This is the most common type of probate.

To qualify for an Independent Administration, the following requirements must be true:

  1. The decedent must have left a valid Will; 
  2. There must be a need for a formal administration; and 
  3. The Will must provide for independent administration by appointing a person to serve as "Independent Executor" or by providing that "no other action shall be had in the court in relation to the settlement of the estate than the probating and recording of the Will, and the return of an inventory, appraisement, and list of claims of the estate."

There is an administration with this type of probate. After the Court confirms and appoints an executor and issues Letters Testamentary to the executor, the executor is responsible for collecting the assets of the estate, paying the debts of the estate, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs of the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. Since it is an “Independent Administration,” the executor does not need any further permission from the Court to pay bills or to sell or distribute the assets of the estate. We assist the executor in notifying the beneficiaries of his or her appointment as executor, publishing a required notice to creditors in the local paper, and filing an inventory of the estate's assets with the Court.

Independent Administration with Will Annexed ($2,250.00 + fees required by court)

If no executor is named in the Will, or, if an executor is named in a decedent's Will, but the Will does not provide for independent administration, the Court may appoint a person to serve as the Independent Administrator of the estate (to act as executor). To remain an “uncontested” probate, all of the beneficiaries of the decedent's Will must agree on having an Independent Administration and agree on the person to serve as Independent Administrator.

To qualify for an Independent Administration with Will Annexed, the following requirements must be true:

  1. The decedent must have left a valid Will;
  2. There must be a need for a formal administration;
  3. All of the beneficiaries named in the Will must agree that there is not a need for a dependent administration (requiring more oversight by the Court) and unanimously designate a qualified person to serve as independent administrator; and 
  4. The Court must find that it is in the best interest of the estate to grant an independent administration. 

There is an administration with this type of probate. After the Court appoints an executor and issues Letters Testamentary to the executor, the executor is responsible for collecting the assets of the estate, paying the debts of the estate, and distributing the remaining assets to the heirs of the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. Since it is an “Independent Administration,” the executor does not need any further permission from the Court to pay bills or to sell or distribute the assets of the estate. We assist the executor in notifying the beneficiaries of his or her appointment as executor, publishing a required notice to creditors in the local paper, and filing an inventory of the estate's assets with the Court.

Dependent Administration ($350/hr for attorney, $125/hr for legal assistant)

This type of administration occurs If 1) the decedent left a Will without naming an executor and the beneficiaries cannot agree on the person who should be appointed as the Independent Administrator, 2) the beneficiaries agree on the person who should be appointed as Administrator, but do not agree that the Administrator should act independently, or 3) the executor named in the Will (and each named alternate) is deceased, disqualified to serve as executor, unable or unwilling to serve as executor, or not granted independent status. There is no way to estimate how much time an attorney will need to spendt on a Dependent Administration. Thus, this type of probate does not qualify for a flat fee. The size of the estate, the amount of dissention among beneficiaries, and the complexity of legal issues involved will greatly affect the fee.

To qualify for a Dependent Administration, the following requirements must be true:

  1. The decedent must have left a valid Will; and 
  2. There must be a need for a formal administration. 

There is an administration with this type of probate. The Court appoints an administrator and issues Letters of Administration to the administrator. The Administrator will then be responsible for collecting the assets of the estate, paying the debts of the estate, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries of the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. In a Dependent Administration, the Court closely supervises the administration of the estate. Bills cannot be paid and assets cannot be sold or distributed without the approval of the Court. Periodic accountings must also be prepared to advise the Court of the status of the estate.

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